Interview with Ron “Bumblefoot” Thai, Bumblefoot and former Guns N Roses




BUMBLEFOOT Press Photo (primary)

Interviewed by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine




Mark – “Hi there I spoke to you back in 2010 in the dressing room just before a gig in Dublin.”

Bumblefoot – “Yeah I remember you. Great to speak to you again.”

Mark – “You too. As usual you’ve been very busy.”

Bumblefoot – “Yeah very busy. It keeps me out of trouble. (laughs)”

Mark – “You have your 10th solo album coming out shortly called Little Brother is Watching you. Can you tell me a bit about the idea behind the artwork?”

Bumblefoot – “The artwork was done by a wonderful Australian artist by the name of Dan Berkys. Every year I would put out a single that had the stem cells so people could make their own mixes As well as the backing tracks. He’s done all the artwork for those for me since 2011. He’s been my art guy ever since as he’s absolutely phenomenal. We had a couple of different ideas that just morphed into the one we used. The artwork is not an insult to humanity, it’s more of there’s one devious little kid amongst all the people who are not really showing their face. He’s almost like the ring leader for trouble (laughs) a trouble maker. Like George Orwell’s 1984, it’s a continuation of big brother is watching you. Instead of the government watching us we have that power now. Just an endless sea of us. A million armies of one. As it says in the title track, we do the watching, we do the exposing, and we have all that power ourselves that we use together and of course against each other. Everyone is like this little fraction and having the album art where it looks like little young kids, little brothers and there’s just one looking up with this evil smile that looks like he’ll use technology for bad things.”

Mark – “As usual your album shows a lot of musical diversity and styles. When listening to the album, for me there seemed as if there was influences from Queen and Muse. Were they bands you had listened to previously & influenced you on this record?”

Bumblefoot – “Absolutely. The first track on the album with all the big vocal harmonies you can’t deny it that Queen was an influence. With this album I found that with all the enjoyment I got from David Bowie, George Harrison, Queen & Muse. The whole feeling that I got from that felt like that I wanted to pay it forward and share that kind of feeling. I was in South America and there was a David Bowie exhibit showing all his old videos, footage of shows and his hand drawings of album art. It just hit me so hard when I was there, it just opened up something for me and it just somehow got me aligned and back in touch with my own creative side which I’d sort of lost just from touring and touring and touring and not committing to making new songs.”

Mark – “Where was the album recorded and was it your own creativity or did outside musicians have a hand in the writing?”

Bumblefoot – “We started recording May of 2014 we started laying drums down in-between tours. Then when I’d done a tour called The Guitar Gods in North America with Yngwie Malmsteen. He named the tour, not I (laughs). So as soon as I’d finished that I went straight back in the studio and finished the 2nd half of the drums and everything else. It was done by January of 2015. Then it was mixed and mastered. I did all the music including the cellos & vocal harmonies. It was Dennis Leeflang on drums & I took care of the music and vocals. Then in December before the album was totally finished I did a listening party in New York where we invited 100 people to listen to the album. We’d play a song and then I would do a Q&A about the song and then show a vocal part for the audience to sing. So we’d have a 100 people all sing together. So I’d show them Clots (the first track on the album) tell them what the song was about and things like that then show them a part to sing. Record that and put it into the song as the final vocal. On the CD the album credits are kind of funny because it says Drums by Dennis Leeflang, Backing Vocals & there’s this list of 100 people & then Bumblefoot, other stuff. (laughs)”
BUMBLEFOOT Press Photo (extra)-1Mark – “This leads me nicely onto my next question. Is there a couple of tracks that stand out that you could give me a lyrical breakdown or subject matter?”

Bumblefoot – “Yeah. Don’t Know Who To Pray To Anymore. That to me maybe one of my best songs that I’ve ever written. The words just say something that I think people will relate to as far as when you feel like your faith has been tested & lost and you’re angry and you know that you need to get passed that anger but you’re just not there yet. Argentina goes through all these movements almost like a classical piece. There’s like a 1st part, a 2nd part & then the 3rd finale. That one just tell the whole story of a relationship. I had the first part of the song that felt like an Argentinian tango and I had this 1 line that I had for a long time before the song was fully written “Now I know what it’s like to live 2 lives and have to choose.” Eventually I was able to find all the right parts for the rest of the song and the right words to be able to tell a story of jumping into this relationship in the 1st part. In the 2nd part tells of the conflict of both of you not seeing things the same way and have different expectations. The 3rd & final part is where it all breaks down. All that love that you had turn into dark things, vengeance and wanting to hurt each other and how it all ends in tragedy.”

Mark – “What about Cuterbra? As that’s something totally off the wall, different and surprising.”

Bumblefoot – “That one is interesting and probably has my favorite lyrics on the album. It was written about the life cycle of gossip and comparing it to the life cycle of a parasitic fly and how it looks for a target and plants the seed in something that grows under the skin into this monster that eventually flies out and the whole cycle starts again. It was written in Argentina in a hotel as I was just wandering around the hall with my phone just typing down lyrics of what I was experiencing at the time. Just forcing the writing process whilst on tour, which is something I could never do but I forced myself to do that with this album. It was kind of like driving with your foot on the gas and on the brake at the same time because one part of you is there for everybody else when you’re on tour as you have to perform, interact with fans, you are there for everybody else. When you’re writing music you need to just look within and really just focus on yourself and be very undistracted. It was really tough to do both at the same time and it drove me pretty nuts but I think good music came out of that.”

Mark – “You’re hitting the UK pretty soon for a mix of workshops & a gig. Have you an idea of what you’ll be doing for both?”

Bumblefoot – “For the workshops I’ll be mainly doing the instrumental stuff that’s very guitar orientated. For the show in Newcastle I’ll do a few from the new record & then others from the normal & abnormal records. But I do need to come back and do a full proper tour and really do the new record. But I really want to wait until people really get to know the new music. I want to do more video and more things for people to enjoy and get to know the new music and then I want to head out.”

Mark – “You’ve been involved with a band project called Art of Anarchy. Can you tell me what’s going on with that right now?”

Bumblefoot – “Art of Anarchy is a band project that began in 2011. It started with John and Vince Votta who are twin brothers and play guitar and drums. I’ve known them for 18 years and they started a music company promoting their friends and I’ve remained friends with them. The first thing they wanted to do with this new company was make a super group. They wanted to make their dream album.”

Mark – “How do you feel about the term super group?”

Bumblefoot – “As long as people understand what the term means. It’s not like we’re put together because we’re super (laughs). We’re all from different musical backgrounds who have come together to create something. So that’s what this is. I think it’s a good definition for it because you have these guys that started this thing and I brought them into the studio & layed my parts & that’s my involvement with it now. Then John Moyer (Disturbed bass player) came into the studio and he laid his bass and then the last ingredient was Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots & Velvet Revolver vocalist) who wrote all his lyrics & recorded everything for the album.”

BUMBLEFOOT Press Photo (Secondary)

Mark – “Scott Weiland has been reported as saying that he was never part of the band, was paid to record the album & won’t be going on tour with the band. Is this typical Scott courting controversy or is there any truth to it?”

Bumblefoot – “I probably shouldn’t comment too much on it as I don’t really know what’s going to happen. But what I can say is that we all signed an agreement wise a band member agreement and we approved on what we were going to say that day and it came as a shock when he said what he said but you know it is what it is. In all honesty I’m not too worried about it. I’m not going to let it bother me. I think the important thing is the great album that we made which should be out in May. We’ve made some great videos together and I can’t wait for people to hear the album, see the videos & share this music that we spent years making together. The main focus was making this album & then whatever happens after that would be just a natural progression. If there was a demand to see us live we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it and see how it goes.”

Mark – “You have your own range of hot sauces. How did you get interested in cooking?”

Bumblefoot – “OH the hot sauce (laughs). I was interested in eating more than the cooking. I’m not a great cook but I love to eat. I’m really good at eating (laughs). I had my first hot pepper when I was 12 years old and I loved the rush I got from it and I’ve always loved hot sauce. It’s almost like music where you want to share & give back what you get from it. So I started to experiment with different types of flavours and I met up with this wonderful company called Ca-Johns out in Columbus Ohio and we went into the kitchen together and got 6 flavours nailed down. I designed the artwork on the bottles, came up with the flavour ideas but it was a collaboration as they knew which peppers would be best to use and the right amounts of everything. They had their ideas of things and it all sounded delicious sauces. Some really fucking good stuff. From the mild Bumblelicious with cherry bourbon & chipotle which goes great on barbecue, to the hottest of hot Bumblefucked (laughs) which is ginger and tropical fruits, ginseng and caffeine which is something other sauces don’t have. It’s like an energy shot with 6 million concentrated scovilles of Habanero pepper that it hurts so good.”

Mark – “Where are those products available from?”

Bumblefoot – “They’re available on my website along with different distributors. There is a UK distributor along with French, German, Australian, Dubai, US and you’ll find it in some stores depending on which want to get it & put it on their shelves. I was in Copenhagen & I saw my hot sauces on the shelves of a grocery store there. I don’t know what stores have it and if they have it online.”

Mark – “You’re also known for your charity work. Which charities are you currently working with?”

Bumblefoot – “There’s always different ones that I get involved with. I’ve just returned from Thailand where we did a bunch of solo shows for bike week which is like a big biker festival where everyone gets together, food, music, bikes, everything. It’s a great time and I did 3 shows there. A preshow party right on Walking Street in Pitaya, I did both nights and headlined bike week and it was all charity shows going toward an organisation out there called Jesters Care for Kids. They provide everything needed education wise, clothing wise, whatever is needed for orphans, disabled kids. Also people who can’t provide for themselves whatever these kids need. We raised $163,000 for these kids. It’s going to make a big difference. I don’t really choose which charities I work for. It’s more like I go through life and paths cross and it happens organically. You meet someone or you get involved with something and this is what they’re doing and you check it out and you jump on board.”

Mark – “In your opinion what makes a good guitar player?”

Bumblefoot – “There’s a lot of things. Besides being creative, being expressive. It doesn’t have to be technical it just has to convey a personality of a real individual. Some-one who truly sounds like themselves and also someone who’s a good songwriter that writes and plays music that you really enjoy.”

Mark – “Who’s impressing you at the moment?”

Bumblefoot – “Right now my favorite new band where it’s just an incredible all around band. From the songs they write to how they play them appeals to every aspect of listening to music is a band called Thankyou Scientist. I’m very proud to say that the guitar player is an old student of mine who is a phenomenal player, writer and person. They are a band absolutely worth checking out. They’ve only been around a couple of years so they’re fairly new. They’ve toured with Coheed & Cambria and now they’re on tour with Periphery who are another really good prog metal band.”

Mark – “What goals would you still like to achieve?”

Bumblefoot – “I’ve always wanted to create a music festival that would give a lot of attention & support to a lot of indie bands in local areas around the world that aren’t getting the attention they deserve. That’s something that I’ve been talking to about making it happen as I really want to move forward with.”

Mark – “Outside of music what holds your interest?”

Bumblefoot – “Definitely cinema. I have a very diverse collection of movies going back to the early 1900’s. I love Ingmar Bergman films from the 50’s and 60’s that he did. I’m a big movie buff. I love movies. More so over the last few years, I’ve come to appreciate movies a lot more. I don’t have a lot of time to do other things. It’s like a huge juggling act of trying to do a lot of things all at once. I do enjoy boxing. More of a spectator now (laughs) as my participation days are long gone now (laughs).”

Mark – “Finally, how would you describe yourself?”

Bumblefoot – “I can’t really describe myself I never could. I have many character flaws. I think that I have a hard time containing my anger when people bullshit me & waste my time. I wish I could do a better job of brushing it off but it’s all I can do to stop myself stabbing people in the face 1000 times for wasting my time. I don’t like having time wasted as time is the one thing you can’t get back. People owe it to each other to respect that fact and be responsible with other people’s time. So for me when some-one wastes my time I have a hard time dealing with that. But that’s how it is. I think that I’m very honest to the point that it can borderline being unprofessional. But I can honestly say that I do not give a fuck about being professional. If professional means losing your basic freedom to bitch and whine minimally every once in a while. If people think I don’t have the right, especially those people who bitch and whine day in and day out about my life, I should have the right to bitch and whine about my life every once in a while too (laughs) and if they don’t like it then fuck you to those people. So I think that I am overly honest, sharing and connected with people where I see myself as a person and don’t see myself as some kind of celebrity comes at a price, you’re not meant to have any freedom kind of bullshit. In all honesty I refuse to be any part of that and if people don’t like it, well that’s to fucking bad because I’m me & that’s the way I am. I am a human being & I am imperfect or whatever the fuck I am. But I am me and I’ve got to wake up in the morning and like who I am waking up to be. Whether I make mistakes or piss people off at the very least I have to be honest. That’s very important to me and I struggle with that when it’s being tested or anything like that. Most of the time in 99% of my life, all is good & I’m happy & everything is great & we get a lot of good things done & everyone walks away super happy. I like that 99% and that’s what I focus on.”

Mark – “Thanks for taking the time to chat to me Ron. I wish you all the best with your hot sauces, albums & all your other endeavours. Hopefully we’ll get to chat to one another again soon.”

Bumblefoot – “It’s been great talking to you again & hopefully we can do it face to face real soon.”


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